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MAN-MADE METEOR SHOWER TO PROTECT EARTH FROM ASTEROIDS

Why in news?

If all goes according to plan, in September 2022, a NASA spacecraft, the Double Asteroid Redirection Test mission, or DART, will slam into a space rock with the equivalent energy of three tonnes of TNT.

Why is DART going to slam into a space rock?

  • The goal is to nudge the orbit of its target object ever so slightly, a practice run to see if we could divert an asteroid from a catastrophic impact with our planet in the future.
  • The impact on that asteroid could produce the first meteor shower ever to result from human activities in space.
  • Observing the shower could let scientists on Earth study the composition of near-Earth asteroids.

Details of the Mission

  • NASA plans to launch the 500 kg DART spacecraft in 2021. Its target is Didymos, a pair of near-Earth asteroids that travel around the Sun together. DART is aiming for the smaller of the two, named Didymoon, which measures about 535 ft across and orbits the larger asteroid.
  • The force of the impact is expected to change Didymoon’s 11.92-hour orbit by about four minutes, a big enough change for telescopes on Earth to detect.
  • If it succeeds, the mission might help confirm that humanity’s best defence against a rogue asteroid is to bump it into another orbit away from Earth.

-Source: Economic Times

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